EU pig meat production recovering, but growth less than expected

The latest short-term outlook from the European Commission forecasts EU27 pig meat production to remain relatively stable at -0.5% year-on-year – a downward revision from the summer short-term outlook.

EU27 pig meat production in the year to July was 13.2 million tonnes, only 38,500 tonnes (0.3%) lower than at the same point last year. 140 million pigs have been slaughtered, 1.7million (1.2%) more than last year, with heavier carcase weights making up the difference.

AHDB analyst Hannah Clarke explained: “Pig meat production during the first half of 2020 was constrained by lower slaughter in several of the major producing countries, due to coronavirus disrupting both processing and demand. In addition, the recent discovery of ASF in German wild boar and subsequent trade restrictions have brought increased price pressure.”

Italy experienced the earliest sustained declines in production, until it recovered in July to above 2019 levels. Danish and Spanish production have proven to be the most resilient with Spain’s production growth underpinned by exports to China in particular.

The recent trade restrictions placed on German pork by key Asian markets have also led the Commission to revise down its export forecast to growth of +2% year-on-year.

Ms Clarke added that the development of EU exports will be influenced by how ASF cases are managed, and whether key trading partners allow trade with ASF-free regions of the country.

She said: “Other EU exporters may fill some gaps in supply, although it is uncertain whether they could compensate volumes entirely. Looking further ahead to 2021, the Commission believes EU27 exports could fall by 10%, due in part to the German situation, but also to the expectation that China may increase its own pork production. We will be monitoring trade and production data as it becomes available.

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